City Council members voted unanimously to select one of three possible options presented by city public works personnel. Mayor Elliott Rothman recused himself from the matter because he owns property near the affected area.
City Council members chose an option which calls for widening the 71 from a four-lane highway to an eight-lane freeway and building a pedestrian bridge near Ninth Street to replace an existing one near Grier Street that does not meet accessibility requirements for the disabled. They also called for eliminating intersections along the 71 Freeway between the 10 and 60 freeways.
In addition, council members opted to eliminate plans for a frontage road to the west of the 71 and an over-crossing at Old Pomona Road that would have connected Village Loop Road and Lexington Avenue.
More than a dozen residents spoke in opposition to the project citing concerns related to traffic and crime.
Resident Edmund Simien said the proposed widening project comes with problems.
"Who does it enhance? The city of Pomona? I think not," he said.
The proposed project appeared to benefit surrounding cities by improving their residents' ability to travel on the 71 but Pomona residents would suffer the negative effects, Simien said.
"The job of the City Council is to represent the people of Pomona.
Some residents of the Phillips Ranch area suggested closing intersections along the path of the 71 cutting out the frontage road would be better for their neighborhoods.
Councilman John Nolte had concerns that widening the freeway will cause more traffic and more pollution but also expressed a desire for improving safety on the 71.
Councilwoman Paula Lantz said she was torn between trying to improve the roadway and addressing residents concerns, and in the end, the selected option was a compromise.
Selecting a preferred option was needed so Caltrans and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority can carry out additional work needed to include the 71 project in a package that would compete for funding from a state public-private partnership program.
If the proposal is approved, then Caltrans would be in charge of the project but the Authority would handle the financing. Should the transportation agencies be successful in securing funding it may be possible to move up the widening ahead of schedule.
Plans call for widening the freeway by 2030 but the public-private partnership could make it possible to move the project's completion to 2015.
Pomona City Engineer Ati Eskandari said the changes made at the meeting affect certain local traffic circulation improvements.
An analysis has already been completed that identified numerous intersections that would benefit from improvements such as traffic signals, lane modifications, road re-stripping and new signage that would be paid for as part of the widening project, Eskandari said.
The analysis must be carried out again to evaluate the effects of the council's changes, she said.
Closing intersections on the path of the 71 will also require some traffic studies and once completed the city and Caltrans representatives will bring the information to the council.
Lann Saadatnejadi, executive officer of the Authority's highway program, said Tuesday the council gave clear direction for the proposed improvements.
"It demonstrates they're serious, they really want this project," she said.
Last night's step was an important one but several milestones are ahead such as obtaining authorization from the Authority's leadership to proceed with the procurement process for the project, Saadatnejadi said.
Authority board members are expected to vote on the matter sometime in February.
Then, in May or June, the proposal will go to the California Transportation Commission for its review and possible funding.
Reach Monica via email, follow her on Twitter @PomonaNow, or call her at 909-483-9336.